So what if it's spring training. Second-year Mariners manager John McLaren said he wanted to send a message to the defending division champion Angels.
Los Angeles didn't seem too concerned.
New ace Erik Bedard improved from his so-so spring debut by allowing one run in three innings and Seattle beat the Angels 6-5 in the first spring game between the teams expected to battle for the AL West title.
The rivals started their regulars and played them for six innings, when all but one run scored.
"They are the team to beat, let's face it," McLaren said. "It was a spring-training game with a regular-season feel to it."
For one team, anyway.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia scoffed at the idea of sending a message in March.
"This is about us getting our work in and getting to where we need to be," he said.
McLaren: "This is a great win...a win that moves us a step closer to the playoffs."
Scioscia: "Uhh....dude, it's Spring Training."
Meanwhile, back in 2009:
Last year, Seattle manager John McLaren made a big point of emphasizing games against the Angels, wanting to establish a winning attitude against them early. They still finished 39 games behind the Angels. Wakamatsu is somewhat limited in what he could have done Thursday, even if he wanted to. Three starters -- Ichiro, Kenji Johjima, and Jose Lopez -- are off at the World Baseball Classic -- and Ken Griffey and Adrian Beltre are being brought along slowly as they recover from off-season surgeries. The only regulars in Thursday's lineup were center fielder Franklin Gutierrez and first baseman Russ Branyan. I asked Wakamatsu his feelings about playing AL West teams in spring.
"I think it's cat and mouse a little -- what are you going to show?'' he said. "Do you show them a lot or not show them a lot. It's nice later in spring to get your big boys against their pitching as much as possible. Not right now."
Just got back from my inaugural Erik Bedard post-outing spring interview session, and compared to some from last year, it was quite pleasant. Here goes:
"It was all right. It's spring training. I'm try to get my arm ready. As long as I throw strikes, it's progress. All I'm trying to do is get in physical shape. I guess you could say it was a little better than last time.
On feeling good physically: "To come off surgery and feel this good, I'm lucky."
And more: "I'm right where you're supposed to be, I guess. I was just pretty much working on things, trying to get my changeup better and be more consistent with it."
Bedard said he didn't change anything from his previous start. He had fewer words than pitches — he threw 38, 26 for strikes. His ground rules for the session: "You've got four questions."
"That's one," Bedard said.
"I was throwing the same as last time," he said during the 78 seconds he made himself available. "They just weren't hitting them today."
Then, after the four questions, he marched into the clubhouse training room.
What a difference a year makes.